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NEWS | Sept. 24, 2019

Soldiers reconnect with warrior roots

By Senior Airman Monica Roybal 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Members assigned to the 128th Aviation Brigade conducted a field training exercise for more than 270 initial entry training U.S. Army Soldiers at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Sept. 18-20, 2019. 

The exercise aimed to reinforce basic Soldier skills that are initially taught during Basic Combat Training. During Advanced Individual Training a Soldier’s main objective is to learn their military occupational specialty through airframe-specific training such as munitions load-up and safety, electrical engineering and core knowledge of avionic systems.

“Our intent is to ultimately create a solid foundation and continue to build upon it with each advanced level that we accomplish,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Freddy Calderon, Charlie Company, 222nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 128th Avn. Bde. aircraft electrician instructor. “We want to show them that basic training doesn’t stop when you graduate [Basic Combat Training] and, as Soldiers, we must continue to learn and develop our skills.”

The Soldiers spent 72 hours rucking approximately 12 miles across the installation to various warrior tasks and basic Soldier skills, including a hand grenade assault course, engagement skills training, land navigation, ethical decision-making discussions, medical and emergency response scenarios, an obstacle course and practicing combat defense techniques.

This is the third iteration of this FTX at Fort Eustis since its implementation in June of this year. 

According to the Center for Initial Military Training, the employment of these exercises is part of an Army-wide effort to mold disciplined, combat-ready Soldiers who will increase readiness at their first unit of assignment. 

Calderon explained that the exercise instructors want to ensure the Soldiers arrive at their duty stations not only prepared for their jobs, but also contribute to cementing a reliable foundation for each Soldier, enabling them to excel throughout their career. 

“We’re reminding them that the skills they learned in basic [training] are not just for basic [training],” Calderon continued. “You’re going to be doing these things for your entire military career, no matter how long that may be, and we’re constantly building upon that knowledge.”

The Soldiers’ AIT courses can range from 12 to 27 weeks and with the primary focus on their MOS, the reintegration of basic Soldier skills into daily routines may be much-needed. 

“I’ve been here for almost seven months so it’s easy to forget a lot of the skills that we learned in basic training,” said Pvt. Daniel Eugene, Bravo Co., 222nd Btn., 1st Avn. Rgt., 128th Avn. Bde. AH-64 Apache helicopter AIT student. “It was a great refresher course and I learned even more this time around. I think we need exercises like this to keep us on top of our game so when we deploy, we have these skills to rely on.”

Eugene said he and his fellow Soldiers agreed that working outside of the classroom reignited a sense of morale and companionship among the troops. 

“I think sleeping in the field and going through these courses together brought us all closer,” Eugene continued. “This gave all the companies a chance to work together, share ideas and learn about the similar MOS’s we all have. We’re all working for the same purpose: defending our country.”